Window motif, found in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China.
Hi, Wilbur! Love the blog, it has helped me through a lot of murky waters. I'm still stuck on the issue of sawing hardwoods with a Japanese saw. I would like to order the 210mm and 270 Gyokucho ryobas as my first made-in-Japan Japanese saws, but am worried: do I just need to be a little more careful to not lose a tooth, or will the cut quality suffer, or the speed? Are there beginner options more suited to hardwoods? Am I worrying about something that has been blown out of proportion? Thanks!
Thanks for reading! I really appreciate it.
The issue of the difficulties Japanese saws have with hardwoods is overblown. It’s possible to break the teeth of a Japanese saw, but that’s an issue of technique, and even then, it’s not easy to do that. In terms of speed, that’s much more operator-dependent than a factor of the type of saw itself. The quality of the cut from a Japanese saw, on the other hand, can and will be excellent.
In a nutshell, if you’re interested in giving Japanese saws a try, go for it. At the end of the day, that’s going to be the only way to find out if they are for you. But my bet is that you’ll be happy with them.
Hi Wilbur, would you say a properly tuned and very sharp smoothing kanna at 42 degrees is capable of smoothing most wood species hard or softwood and will be a good all around smoothing plane to have? Does one really need a kanna with a bedding angle of 47 degrees or higher to plane dense tropical and interlocked grain wood?
I know that I can deal with most North America species pretty well with a Japanese plane that has a bed angle in the 40° range. I have one Japanese plane with a 45° bed angle that takes care of any board I can’t deal with my other planes.
The Tsunesaburo plane company seems to like 39-41° as a good bed angle for cherry and birch, and 42° for oak and maple. But I would caution that there is a lot more going on than the specific bed angle of your plane. Although increasing bed angle is one way to go, sharpness and setting your plane to take a thinner shaving goes a long way towards reducing tearout, and of course, there’s the chipbreaker. When I took Yann Giguère’s class last summer, I managed to get a tearout-free surface on a piece of bubinga by sharpening the blade and tweaking the chipbreaker of my 40° Japanese plane.